Russia says genetic testing confirms Prigozhin died in aircraft crash

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Russian non-public mercenary group Wagner, in disguise and holding a gun, delivers a speech in a desert space at an undisclosed location. This nonetheless picture is from a video that will have been shot in Africa and was launched on August 21, 2023. License rights courtesy of PMC Wagner by way of Telegram by way of REUTERS/File Picture

MOSCOW, Aug 27 (Reuters) – Russian investigators mentioned on Sunday genetic checks had confirmed Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner mercenary group, was amongst 10 individuals killed in a aircraft crash final week.

The Russian aviation authority had beforehand launched the names of all ten passengers on board the non-public jet that crashed within the Tver area northwest of Moscow on Wednesday. Amongst them have been Prigozhin and Dmitry Utkin, his right-hand man, who had helped discovered the Wagner group.

“As a part of the investigation into the aircraft crash within the Tver area, molecular genetic research have been accomplished,” Russia’s investigative committee mentioned in a press release on information app Telegram.

“Based mostly on their outcomes, the identities of all ten useless might be established. They correspond to the record given within the leaflet,” it mentioned.

There was some hypothesis, notably on the pro-Wagner Telegram channels, as as to whether Prigozhin – who was recognized for taking varied security precautions to forestall a potential assassination – actually was on the doomed flight.

Authorities have but to say what they suppose was the explanation his non-public jet fell out of the sky.


The crash got here precisely two months to the day after Prigozhin and his Wagner mercenaries staged a mutiny in opposition to Russian navy commanders, seizing management of a southern metropolis, Rostov, and advancing in the direction of Moscow earlier than protecting 200 km ( 125 miles) from the capital turned again.

Muscovites on Sunday laid flowers at a makeshift shrine embellished with Russian flags and images, erected not removed from the Kremlin to commemorate Prigozhin and Utkin.

“I received used to comrades dying,” mentioned Dmitry Karpov, who wore navy uniforms, including that Prigozhin’s actions confirmed behave in wartime. “Such individuals stay as position fashions in historical past.”

Alexander Dykhov, one other man who got here to pay his respects, alluded to President Vladimir Putin’s criticism of Prigozhin’s previous errors. “The speak of some errors, completely different opinions, I feel all that can be forgotten. And in individuals’s minds the picture of a hero will stay. He and Dmitry Utkin are actual heroes.”

Putin described the June 23-24 mutiny as a telltale “stab within the again,” however later met with Prigozhin within the Kremlin. On Thursday, he provided his condolences to the households of these killed within the crash.

Western politicians and commentators have prompt with out proof that Putin ordered Prigozhin’s assassination as punishment for the mutiny that additionally posed the best problem to Putin’s personal rule since he got here to energy in 1999.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov mentioned on Friday such proposals have been “an absolute lie”. When requested if Putin would possibly attend Prigozhin’s funeral, Peskov mentioned it was too early to say, additionally citing the president’s “busy schedule.”

Wagner fighters performed a distinguished position within the combating in jap Ukraine, notably within the month-long siege of the town of Bakhmut, regardless of Prigozhin’s frequent, profane assaults on Russia’s navy excessive command for his or her warfare, culminating in failed mutinies.

The Wagner fighters have since left Ukraine and a few have relocated to neighboring Belarus below a deal that ended their mutiny.

Some are anticipated to affix the Russian armed forces, nonetheless, many can be upset by the sudden demise of the group’s founder, which impressed a excessive degree of loyalty amongst his males.

Putin paid combined tribute to Prigozhin on Thursday, describing him as a “gifted businessman” but additionally a flawed character who “made critical errors in life”.

Reporting by Vladimir Soldierkin, textual content by Gareth Jones, enhancing by Nick Macfie and Giles Elgood

Our requirements: The Thomson Reuters Belief Ideas.

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